Danger and Violence

praying womanNo Resting Place: Violence At Home & Violence In The Streets

The month of March has long been recognized as Women’s History Month. Domestic violence continues to pose a clear and present danger for women and girls. To highlight that fact here are some alarming facts shared on the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website:
“Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner. In 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder. Less than one-fifth of victims reporting an injury from intimate partner violence sought medical treatment following the injury. Intimate partner violence results in more than 18.5 million mental health care visits each year.”With that said, not all homes provide a safe haven. For far too many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Many incidents of domestic violence go unreported. What data that is available indicates as shared previously that domestic violence continues to pose a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of countless women and girls. Yet, domestic violence is a subject that we, as a society, are reluctant to talk about. As a result, victims often suffer and sometimes die in silence. It is important to know: what constitutes domestic violence, how you can help, and available resources.

serious woman face

What constitutes abuse? Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including but not limited to physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that people use to gain power and control over their intimate partners. Research indicates that domestic violence is common and affects people of all cultures, religions, ages, sexual orientations, educational backgrounds and income levels. Domestic violence is not a private family matter as was once thought but rather a crime against society. Abuse takes many forms.

Abuse comes in several forms and, while some define abuse as a physical attack, it can also be emotional, financial, or sexual. Physically abusive behavior can escalate quickly and have lethal consequences. Emotional abuse is considered a psychological or mental attack on another, including name-calling, destructive criticism, harassment, isolation, intimidation, or humiliation. These emotionally destructive behaviors by the abusive partner can be detrimental to the victim’s mental well-being both in the short-term as well as long-term without counseling. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy the victim’s self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make the victim feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and the first step to breaking free is recognizing that the relationship is abusive.

Are there other forms of domestic violence? Other forms of domestic violence include but are not limited to financial and sexual abuse. Financial abuse, also known as economic abuse, results from one partner’s attempts to gain and maintain control over their partner’s finances. Taking many forms, financial abuse includes disallowing a partner from obtaining a job, purposely hurting a partner’s credit, limiting access to funds, and demanding that a partner ask for money for every expense. Sexual abuse results from one partner forcing his or her will on the other, often causing physical and psychological harm in the process. When a partner is afraid to say no, he or she suffers from abuse. Once the victim acknowledges the reality of the abusive situation, then she or he can get the much-needed help.

depressed teen girl

Is this an exhaustive list of the forms of domestic violence? Although lengthy, the aforementioned categories of domestic violence do not comprise all forms abuse. Stalking is another form of emotional abuse. With the rise of technology, many abuse their partner by stalking them with the aid of cell phones, computers, and the Internet, or using technology to monitor a partner’s activity. Research indicates that this type of abuse is especially common among teenagers and young adults. The immigration status of the victim can also afford the abusive partner an opportunity to control the victim. When the abusive partner, often a spouse, holds control over the victim’s immigration papers, threatens to call immigration authorities, or refuses to let his or her partner to learn English, among other things this behavior constitutes abuse. More than ever before, society must guard against domestic abuse in all forms, paying special attention to non-traditional forms of abusive behavior which all too often go overlooked.

How can you help? There are several ways that you can help a person in an abusive relationship. First, you must be a patient and non-judgmental listener. Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. Secondly, you can encourage him or her to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Assist your friend in locating a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling and/or shelter. If the person elects to go to the police, court or a lawyer, you can offer to accompany them for moral support. It is important to be mindful that you cannot rescue the person being abused. Although it is difficult to see someone you care about being hurt only the abused person can decide when to take the requisite steps to secure a life free from the violence and turmoil which occurs in an abusive relationship.

The pervasive problem of domestic violence takes everyone to make it stop. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, keep in mind that expressing your concern for their health and well-being will let the person know that you care and may even save her or his life.

Sources:NCADV website and PCADV website

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

World AIDS Day 2014

holding hands around globe

December 1 is World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV.

Over the past quarter-century, twenty-five (25) million lives have been lost to HIV/AIDS, but remarkable strides have also been made in halting the disease’s progression.

Only 28 percent of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV have the infection under control, increasing the risk that they will spread the disease to others, U.S. health officials said Tuesday. One in five U.S. adults infected with HIV are not aware that they have the virus.

For years, people can be infected with the AIDS virus without manifesting symptoms. Of those who are aware, only half receive ongoing medical care and treatment for the illness, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its latest report on HIV in America.

Concerned Man on Laptop

Fortunately, HIV/AIDS is preventable. Nevertheless, each year, HIV/AIDS continues to destroy countless lives. HIV/AIDS takes the greatest toll among African-Americans, Latinos and MSM of all races. Fighting the spread of HIV and AIDS has been an uphill battle for over 30 years. This disease has disproportionately affected the black community.

One in sixteen African American men and one in thirty-two African American women will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime. The rate of new infections among blacks is seven times the rate among whites. Among Hispanics, the rate of new HIV infections is three times as high as that among whites. And according to a recent CDC analysis, the HIV diagnosis rate among MSM is forty-four (44) times that of other men.

praying woman

One out of four HIV cases in our nation are among women and girls, thirteen years of age and older; and two out of three of these women and girls are African-American. “Socioeconomic and cultural factors—including poverty, discrimination, and inadequate access to health care, among others—often render black women more vulnerable to HIV than other racial/ethnic groups.

smiling mother and daughter

Many women of color are paralyzed by fear—of being stigmatized, of abandonment by their partners, and of deportation by immigration authorities. Fear of being stigmatized by HIV/AIDS appears to have at least some relationship to people’s decisions about whether or not to get tested for HIV. But most important for women of color who are often the family caregiver and breadwinner, they are afraid of their families’ reactions to either their HIV status or disclosure of sexual orientation.

women of color

What we know about the social and cultural impact on Black women’s lives is that HIV-related stigma and denial regarding how the disease is spread, particularly among self-identified heterosexuals who are positive, and stigmatization about the disease remains an enormous barrier to effectively fighting the epidemic.”

praying Latina woman

Given these grim statistics, this pressing public health issue challenges each of us to be “our sisters’ keepers.” This World AIDS Day, you can choose to make a difference in the lives of others. Toward that end, take action in the fight against HIV and raise awareness of its impact on women and girls. Get tested. Encourage every female within your sphere of influence to be tested for HIV/AIDS. Additionally, you can plan or support HIV prevention efforts in your community.

The fight against HIV and AIDS is a fight we can one day win. We must work together to end this insidious epidemic and eradicate this disease. With an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action, each of us can educate members of our community about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the importance of knowing your HIV status. For further information about HIV/AIDS, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s website at http://www.cdc.gov.

Source(s): MSN. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), HIV Surveillance Report: Diagnoses of HIV infection and AIDS in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2009.; Evaluate website. Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI). MSNBC.com, “Few Americans With HIV Have Virus Under Control”, November 29, 2011.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Human Rights Day 2014

african children

December 10, 2014, marks the sixty-sixth (66th) anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948.

As aptly stated on the United Nation’s website, Human Rights Day presents an opportunity, every year, to ‘….celebrate human rights, highlight a specific issue, and advocate for the full enjoyment of all human rights by everyone everywhere….”

Indian Girl

Some argue that the last four years have been remarkable in the area of human rights activism and there is a lot to celebrate – while there is a great deal that still needs to be done. There is no better moment to recommit ourselves to the work of those who came before us. It’s our turn to work to preserve human rights for our children and for all future generations.

This year, the spotlight is on the rights of all people — women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and marginalized — to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making.

prisoner's hands

These human rights — the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, to peaceful assembly and association, and to take part in government (articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) have been at the centre of the historic changes in the Arab world over the past four years, in which millions have taken to the streets to demand change. In other parts of the world, the ninety-nine (“99%”) percent made their voices heard through the global Occupy movement protesting economic, political and social inequality.

holding hands around globe

To help celebrate International Human Rights’ Day, it is important for each of us to join the global conversation and join the human rights movement. Join the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and United Nations Association of the United States of America, in celebrating the many accomplishments of the last four years and the work we still have ahead of us.

Source(s): United Nations.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week

Scared Girl

Childhood hunger is a growing reality in America. In one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the prevalence of childhood hunger is a national travesty and for many a well kept secret. National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is held in the month of November.  This year, National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is November 15th through November 23, 2014.

The overarching objective of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is to educate communities nationwide that hunger exists throughout the year not just during the holiday season. Food security is necessary to lead a productive, healthy, and active life. It has been reported that more than forty-nine (49) million Americans lack reliable access to the food.

children walking to school

For families in need, the summer months present special challenges because they rely on the free and/or reduced school breakfast and lunch programs to provide essential meals for their children during the school-year. These feeding programs are either not available during the summer months or offered only at select school locations making it challenging if not  impossible for many families in need to access. With that said, it is important for us to remember to make donations to local community food banks on a routine basis because every month of the year countless families often turn to these institutions to help feed their families particularly in these very difficult economic times.

Child Post

Approximately, one in four children in America is food insecure. As is aptly stated in the materials by Share Our Strength i “No Hungry Kid”, “…their bodies may not be rail thin, nor their bellies bloated like their counterparts in other countries, but they’re at risk of hunger all the same. They lack the energy to learn, grow, and thrive.” It is a well known fact that proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of healthy children.

Statistics on Childhood Hunger in the United States:

  • According  to the USDA, over 17 million children lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2009. ii
  • 20%  or more of the child population in 16 states and D.C. are living in food insecure households.  The states of Arkansas (24.4 percent) and Texas (24.3 percent) have the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food.(Cook, John, Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008. iii
  • In 2009, households that had  higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included  households with children (21.3 percent), especially households with  children headed by single women (36.6 percent) or single men (27.8 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (24.9 percent) and Hispanic households (26.9 percent).v

Early Learning

These heartbreaking facts about the prevalence and the face of hunger in America have drawn the attention of many people including but not limited to Oscar winning actor, Jeff Bridges. Jeff Bridges is serving as the national spokesperson for the “No Kid Hungry Campaign”. To ensure that every child has the opportunity to achieve success, we must first ensure that their most basic needs are met.

To get involved in an anti-child hunger campaign or to gain further information on the prevalence of childhood hunger in America, visit www.share.org, http://www.feedamerica.org, and http://www.nokidhungry.org.

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week brings people together from across the country to educate and promote change for some of the country’s most dire issues. You can be a part of this movement and help your community become a part of the solution. Planning your events is the first step to making hunger and homelessness a thing of the past. http://www.nationalhomeless.org

Sources: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; U.S. Census Bureau; Feeding America (online); Rhoda Cohen,  J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010; Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008 and 2009; Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008; www.share.org; www.feedamerica.org; www.nokidhungry.org; and Food Research and Action Center.

Photo credit Microsoft Clip Art

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iIn 1984, Share Our Strength, was started by the brother and sister team of Bill and Debbie Shore started the organization with the belief that everyone has strength to share in the global fight against hunger and poverty, and that in these shared strengths lie sustainable solutions.

iiRhoda Cohen,  J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010.

iiiNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008.

iv Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States:2006-2008.

vNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.

Happy ThanksGiving ?

It will soon be Thanksgiving and in the American tradition, many will prepare a celebration to express their gratitude to God for all the blessings in their lives. Most celebrate with a turkey dinner.  It is a longstanding tradition.

Many throughout our nation are facing another Thanksgiving holiday that will not include the traditional meal with all the trimmings.  Economic times are very difficult for countless families and food budgets, for many, are stretched to their limit.

You can make it a better holiday for a family in your community.  Donate to your local community food bank and you will help make Thanksgiving a joyous day for many of your neighbors in need. After all, it’s an American tradition.  Make a difference; change a life.

A Family

Additionally, tell your members of Congress to protect programs that give hope and opportunity to people experiencing hunger and poverty. Reducing our nation’s long-term debt is critical, but hungry and poor people didn’t cause the problem, and cutting programs that help them won’t significantly reduce our debt. But cutting these programs will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable members of our society.

msp child

Please join me in urging Congress to keep our nation’s commitment to those referred to in the Bible as “the least of these.” Please join me in sending an email to our members of Congress today and remind them that they are in office to care for all of their constituents both rich and poor.

Source(s): The National Association of Working Women. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Give Hope to Victims of Domestic Violence

woman with cellphone

Give hope to victims of domestic violence by donating your old cell telephone to the HopeLine Camapaign operated by Verizon Wireless. Verizon collects no-longer-used cell phones, batteries, and accessories and either refurbishes or recycles the phones. The refurbished cell phones along with three thousand (3,000) minutes of wireless service are provided to victims of domestic violence free of charge.

Cell Phones

For many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Research indicates that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.[i] Indigent women are more vulnerable. As woman rebuild their lives, the refurbished cell phones serve as a link to supportive services in a time of crisis.

The pervasive problem of domestic violence takes everyone to make it stop. Consider donating your used cell phone— you could possibly save someone’s life. In honor of Earth Day 2011, you should consider donating your used cell telephone, battery, and/or charger.

cancer awareness

Verizon Wireless states that “donating an old wireless phone to HopeLine® from Verizon is as easy as following these four steps:
1.Turn the phone’s power off.
2.Make sure the phone’s batteries are installed in the phone you are returning. Please do not include any loose batteries.
3.Please remove storage cards (microSD, etc.) and SIM cards from phones prior to donation. Also be sure to return any travel chargers or other accessories that came with the devices.
4.Seal the package and adhere the free postage-paid label to the box/envelope and drop it in the mail. To view and print the mailing label, you may need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
5.Don’t forget to include your return address on the shipping label. “

“Verizon Wireless takes the protection of customer information seriously. The company encourages everyone who plans to give a phone to HopeLine to erase any personal data on the phone before donating it. If in doubt on what to remove from your phone, leave it to the professionals. As part of the refurbishing process, HopeLine scrubs the phones prior to distributing them for re-use to ensure all customer information is removed.”

sad woman

Please note:
•Donated phones are not tax deductible.
•This shipping label is only intended for use by consumers who are donating their wireless phones to HopeLine. Customers who are not donating their phones but wish to return their wireless phones should contact Customer Service or visit their local Verizon Wireless Communications Store.”

For information about Verizon’s cell phone donation process visit: http://aboutus.vzw.com/communityservice/hopeLine.html.

Source(s): Verizon.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

[i] Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy, National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 1993, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,” (2000)

International Day of the Girl: Empowering Adolescent Girls

Distressed

Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence

Smiling Student

October 11th is International Day of the Girl. In recognition of the importance of investing in and empowering girls during adolescence and preventing as well as eliminating the various forms of violence they experience, the theme of International Day of the Girl Child for 2014 is Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence.

In recognition of girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world, on December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly  declared October 11th as the International Day of the Girl Child.

Listening to Music

To take efforts to end all forms of violence against girls and women to the next level, it is important that we focus on adolescent girls and move beyond awareness-raising to investments in and support for this critical group that will shape the present and the future.

depressed teen girl

Building on the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, we must look at the opportunities initiatives such as Education for All and the global movement to end child marriage provide to empower adolescent girls and must ensure that they are protected from harm, are supported by family and friends, and are able to act in their own interest.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Source(s): United Nation’s website.